Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur that co-founded and now is CEO of the electric automaker Tesla has clarified for investors that the proposed location for the battery “gigafactory” won’t be decided until year-end.
Tesla, the California-carmaker that has been the investor sweetheart for the past two years, has decided that its growth needs to be supported by a battery plant that would allow a bigger supply of lower-cost lithium-ion cells – both for its cars and other businesses led by Musk – like selling packs for home and company energy storage.
According to Musk, 42, which added the clarifications during Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting in Mountain View, California, the electric automaker is aiming to start initial preparations for the battery factory – “all the way to creating a foundation,” having the blueprints and local approval – in as many as three of the competing US states.
“It might actually be three states that we do it in,” he said. “I would expect that we do a down-select for gigafactory 1 before the end of the year.”
So far, the company has selected four main possible locations – Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas; with the state of California also added now as a possible candidate. While this year alone Tesla plans to increase Model S deliveries by 56% after entering the Chinese market and introducing the right-hand drive version for UK, Japan and Hong Kong, ultimately Musk said the company’s goal is to offer lower-priced electric cars to the masses – a strategy that hinges on the battery plant’s opening by 2017.